The establishment of a physiotherapy school in Nottingham in the 1960s was due very largely to the efforts of two superintendent physiotherapists, Elisabeth Trussell at Nottingham Orthopaedic Clinic and Margaret McMain at Harlow Wood Orthopaedic Hospital, supported by Mr. J. P. Campbell, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. Their persistence was rewarded in 1958 when the hospital authorities met at the General Hospital in Nottingham to consider a report prepared by another local physiotherapist, John Henry Smith (Mr. Smith was one of the first members appointed by the Secretary of State to a proposed State Registration Board for Physiotherapists).
But it was not until 1962 that the Sheffield Regional Health Board put forward plans for the establishment of a school in Orchard House, on the City Hospital site. These were not acceptable to the Charted Society of Physiotherapy, the professional association responsible for the education and training of physiotherapists in the UK. But later that year a second proposal was approved: the conversion of a three storey reception centre on the Sherwood Hospital campus, with the addition of a single storey annexe.
Work started on the site in 1964 and was completed by August the following year, at a cost of £30,000, with £11,000 allocated to equip and furnish the building. All was complete by September, when 17 students started. And on October 11, the school was officially opened by Group Captain Douglas Bader.
Although lacted on the Sherwood/City Hospital site it was, in effect, a regional training school. The students gained their clinical experience at first in local hospitals, at the Queen’s Medical Centre once it had been opened by the Queen, and thereafter in specialist units in Mansfield, Leicestershire and South Derbyshire.
The main building was over 100 years old at that time. In its early days it had served as a reception centre for the less fortunate members of society, who would have a nights lodging, ‘paid for’ the following morning by a session of chopping firewood for lighting the coal fires around the hospitals.
In 1993 the school became part of the University of Nottingham, changing its title to the Division of Physiotherapy Education, and offering a three-year BSc with honours course in physiotherapy. And in 1998 it moved into the new Clinical Sciences Building on the City Hospital site. The old buildings were demolished and a purpose-built day nursery for the children of hospital staff now stands on site.
From: The Peoples Hospital, Pages 63 & 64: David Lowe and Paul Swift, 2003.